Surprise! Subsidizing Healthy Food Helps Kids Lose Weight Childhood Obesity Can Be Counteracted with Health-Food Subsidies

A new U.S.D.A. study says cutting the costs of healthy food has a significant impact on kids' weights. Let's stop subsidizing corn syrup.

It seems obvious to anyone who's ever paid money for something: Make things cheaper, especially things people absolutely need, and you'll sell more of them. And yet it seems the U.S. government has yet to grasp that lesson. For decades now, America has been struggling with rising obesity, but rather than invest in subsidizing healthy foods for citizens, the government has instead dumped tens of billions of dollars into corn subsidies. What that's done is give rise to vast stockpiles of corn syrup, corn chips and soda, all on the taxpayer's dime. Whereas more than $15 billion in subsidies went to corn, cotton, rice, wheat and soybeans in 2009, only $825 million went to fruits and vegetables. We're not just getting fat, we're paying to do so out of both hands (once with our taxes and once at the store).

A new report (PDF) from the U.S.D.A.'s Economic Research Service outlines exactly how damaging these subsidies are on America's children. Working on behalf of Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign against youth obesity, a team was able to ascertain that just a 10-percent decrease in the price of lowfat milk for one quarter was associated with a .35-percent drop in children's BMIs. Similarly, lowering the cost of dark green vegetables by 10 percent saw a .28-percent BMI drop. And the effect worked both ways: When the price of sweets fell, BMIs increased.

It's important to note that BMI is often attacked as a bad way to measure a person's health, but until there's a better metric that can be applied generally in these types of studies, BMI will have to do. Also, if you're thinking that a .35-percent drop doesn't seem like a lot of weight, you're right. But it's an important start, and one whose impact could be larger if we enacted subsidies cutting health-food prices by more than just 10 percent.

Let this be a reminder that poor people, who are more overweight than the wealthy, shouldn't be written off as pigs who stuff their kids full of empty calories every night. The simple fact is that unhealthy food costs less, and cost is of primary importance when you're on a very limited budget.

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

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People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

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